It is strange how an association of ideas can completely colour your perception. I had just finished milking the house cow when a friend turned up with a friend of hers that I hadn't met before. We chatted in the kitchen as I processed the milk and washed the buckets and here was where my concepts took a change. My friend's friend spoke in a shocked tone ... "Are they old nappy buckets?"

Well, yes, my milking buckets are white nappy buckets. I bought them from the Plastic Box, they were cheap, they have well-fitting lids, they are pure white so I cannot get them mixed up with any other bucket, they are easily washed in the kitchen sink and they withstand boiling water being poured over them. Now they aren't "old" nappy buckets – they were brand new nappy buckets when I bought them ... but the damage had been done. The vision of nappies soaking in my milking buckets had tainted the flavour of the fresh milk in the fridge.

I was reminded of a situation several years ago when I was helping to build a cross-country course for a Pony Club. We were short a jump (and were also short on time and money) when someone had a bright idea and we borrowed some empty beehives from a local beekeeper. An easy, straightforward, oxer-type jump – a gallop in, pop over and gallop away fence – but this fence caused the most refusals of the day. Turns out it was a rider problem rather than a horse problem. Riders came into the fence pedalling backwards because it was about bees! And the horses picked up the vibes and pedalled backwards as well. The fence judge said it was fascinating to watch.

The following year the beehives were used again but, that year, we had a little more time and a little more money so the hives were dressed with potted shrubs and ferns. There were no refusals – the greenery had changed the perception.
Back to my affordable milking buckets. I dressed them. I took my indelible ear tag marking pen and drew a beautiful cow on the side of each bucket ... and the milk in the fridge tasted great again.